ONE bantamweight fighter Mehdi Zatout shook the mixed martial arts world when he announced his retirement at ONE Fight Night 3 in a moving post-match interview inside the circle in Axiata Arena in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
Zatout defeated Asa Ten Pow in a bantamweight Muay Thai after three minutes in the first round by TKO, earning a $50,000 performance bonus.
After scoring the win, the 39-year-old thanked ONE Championship, paying tribute to martial arts for changing his life during a career that lasted for more than a quarter of a century.
“I promised my wife, my mom, if I win, I have to stop [fighting]. I think, for sure, this is my last fight,” Zatout said.
The pair engaged in scuffles at the start with Ten Pow pushing the veteran, throwing an overhand right. Zatout used his experience to counter the strike with a damaging one of his own, gathering momentum with jumping knees and a flurry of punches. “The American Ninja” could not answer the bell for the second round, giving Zatout a TKO victory.
“It’s amazing, you know, martial arts gave me more than 27 years of hard work and discipline, and I learned a lot, making me who I am. I want to thank martial arts because martial arts gave me everything for my life, the education of my kids, everything,” Zatout said.
“I give all homage to all athletes, and you know, I worked a lot and did a lot of sacrifices to make this fight camp. I’m so happy, I thank God, Alhamdulillah I won today,” he said, thanking Malaysia and the fans in the stadium.
With 120 fights to his name, Zatout has won several kickboxing and Muay Thai championships around the globe.
Zatout, who co-owns Venum Training Camp Thailand in Pattaya, began training Muay Thai at 10, through a group of school friends who were learning at a local gym in his hometown of Noisy-le-Sec, an eastern suburb in Paris, France.
He challenged adversity and the early deaths of his father and beloved coach in 1998 when Zatout was only 14. He followed his passion for combat sports, first opening a boxing store, before teaching at a gym in Thailand.
Although he enjoyed coaching, he wanted to be at the center of the action in the ring.
“I had to leave my passion for teaching to return to fighting,” he told ONE Championship.
After beating Ten Pow, Zatout has hung his gloves up on a high note after a career in which he was crowned champion in French Muay Thai, European Muay Thai, ISKA Championship, and Victory Kickboxing Championship, and WBC World Championship in 2013.